Don Tapscott – 4 Principles for the open world (Openess)

Don Tapscott – 4 Principles for the open world (Openess)

You think that social media is about hooking up online? For these kids [in the Tunisian Revolution], it was a military tool to defend unarmed people from murderers.” (Don Tapscott)

In this TED video, Don Tapscott suggests that our current global situation is facing the ‘burning platform’ dilemma, where the cost of staying where we are right now is becoming greater than the cost of moving towards something different, even if radically so.

Many of the traditional institutions that make up our global system – banks, governments and media among others – are currently either being questioned, condemned or falling apart.

This global crisis that we are facing today, according to Don Tapscott, has pushed us towards a turning point in our human history where we need to change our old models and open up all of our institutions in order for humanity to move forward.

The Internet, he explains, is channeling this openness by acting as a giant global computer that we all share and program continuously.

Every time someone uploads a video, posts a comment or makes a Google search, for instance, the Internet gets programmed on a global scale, turning it into this massive, globally accessible and constantly feeding brain.

The opening up of our world is, in turn, giving us the chance to finally rebuilt and recreate many of our institutions from the industrial age around a new set of principles. Don Tapscott explains how exactly our world is opening up by putting forward four different meanings of ‘openness’:

 1. Openness as collaboration: as technology moves forward, the boundaries of organizations are becoming more porous, fluid and open. Social media is becoming a new means of production, where the capability of individuals around the world can be leveraged easily and instantly. This is changing the very architecture of our traditional organizations and allowing for the creation of public value in a brand new way.

2. Openness as transparency: social media is allowing us to exchange information like never before – defying geographical barriers, across time zones and at no cost. Through this explosion in communication and information, institutions are becoming increasingly ‘naked’ and exposed to the public eye. As technology advances, our expectation and demand for transparency will only become stronger as well.

3. Openness as sharing: social media is allowing for the sharing and exchange of assets and intellectual property in an unprecedented way. Instead of fighting against this, such as the inefficient attempts of the record label industry, businesses need to find innovative ways to adapt and respond to this technological revolution. Reinventing old models is crucial to incorporate this change and allow for the thriving of both industry and humanity.

4. Openness as empowerment: knowledge and intelligence are power, and as these become more distributed through the Internet, a concomitant decentralization and disaggregation of power is taking place. This connected, open world that we are constantly producing and sharing through the Internet has the power to bring freedom on a global scale.


For Don Tapscott, we are not in an information age, but an age of networked intelligence where each of us can both be a producer and access intelligence contained in others around the world.

As we are entering an increasingly open world where the boundaries of organizations are changing, where transparency is ‘disinfecting civilization’, where the sharing of assets is made possible and where freedom and empowerment are distributed; we are also entering an age of ‘vast promise’.

Don Tapscott believes that this open, networked world has the power to create collective intelligence that will go beyond the individual to create some kind of global consciousness for what could be a much better world, and according to him, the generations that are coming – generations of digital natives that hold no fear of technology – will be the most powerful force for change.

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Posted in: Social Media for Executives, TED Talks, video

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